Out of 42 PIAA qualifiers, 28 were from District 6 last season. Districts 9 and 10 accounted for a combined 15 Hershey-bound wrestlers.

In other words, this is a make-or-break weekend for the area’s Class AAA grapplers as they get set to take on some of the best competition in the state at Altoona Senior High School.

Action gets under way today beginning at 5 p.m. with the preliminary round.

District 6, 8, 9 and 10 champions receive a bye and start in the quarterfinals at 7:15 p.m.

The top three finishers in each weight move on to the PIAA finals next weekend at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Meadville sophomore 103-pounder Shelton Mack (30-4) has a strong chance of being one of those guys when the dust settles Saturday night.

“Out of everybody coming out of districts, we like his place right now,” Meadville head coach Jon Frye said.

He will begin with the winner of a prelim match between Brashear’s Makisha Nyama (12-12) and St. Marys’ Trenton Bowers (14-5).

Last season Mack was eliminated in the second-round consolations.

The Bulldog lightweight’s first real test will likely be at noon on Saturday in the semifinals against either D-6 No. 1 Jacob Hines of Altoona (22-9) or D-9 No. 2 Kodie Lowder of Clearfield (25-9).

Should he advance to the finals, Mack would likely face D-9 champ T.J. Stanton of DuBois (27-9).

Both were third-place winners at the Tool City Tournament this year, Stanton at 103 and Mack at 112.

Also returning to Altoona for the ’Dogs are juniors Rusty Woodrow (130) and Josh Keach (135).

Woodrow (23-7) takes on D-9 No. 3 Dillon Dixon of DuBois (17-18) in the first round.

He should move on to face D-6 champ Jonathan Quiggle of Central Mountain (35-8) in the quarters. Quiggle placed second in the region as a junior at 135.

“That’s going to be a good match for him,” Frye said. “With the way Rusty wrestles, anything is possible.”

Keach (6-4), who was 0-2 last season at regionals at 130, gets D-8 runner-up Will Williams of Peabody (20-8).

District 9 winner Derek Burkett of Punxsutawney (25-8) would be Keach’s opponent with a win over Williams.

Another victory there would bring up D-6 champ Dylan Alton of Central Mountain (38-1) who took seventh place at 125 as a freshman and is ranked fifth in the nation by Wrestling USA Magazine.

“He had a pretty decent tournament last weekend,” said Frye of Keach. “He’s still getting better as he goes. Hopefully, this weekend he can be at his physical best.”

Sophomore Kasey Davis (20-5) makes his first regional appearance after missing last season with an injury.

He will start with D-6 No. 4 Gage Smith of Lewistown (22-12).

A win would pit him against D-9 No. 1 David Whitaker of DuBois (24-9), whom Davis defeated 7-4 at Tool City in January.

“I think Kasey has a very legitimate shot at making the semis,” Frye said. “He’s been in enough of these tournaments that he’s not going to let the atmosphere get to him.”

Also making debuts for Meadville today are D-10 No. 3 112-pounder Duane Burrows (15-12) and No. 3 189-pounder Mike Flick (19-15).

Burrows probably took the toughest local draw in the opener with D-6 No. 2 Jordan Rich of Central Mountain (32-7).

“That is a tough start for somebody,” Frye said of Rich. “You never know with Duane. If you get past that first match, who knows what could happen from there.”

Rich placed seventh in the state last season at 103 with a 36-8 record. He fell to 2007 PIAA 103-pound fifth-place winner Mitchell Port by 4-2 decision in the D-6 final.

A win would bring up Jonathan Hanna of Brashear (19-7), likely followed by undefeated freshman Kody Young of Punxsy (33-0) in the semifinals.

Flick’s road looks a little less bumpy with D-8 No. 2 Rich Kohl of Carrick (7-1), followed by Bo Reifer of Philipsburg-Osceola (34-3).

“We like the spot that Mike is in,” Frye said. “If we can get by (Reifer), who knows. Mike has the ability to keep scores close. He is an opportunist.”

Four Conneaut Lake wrestlers entered last season with two moving on.

This year the same four are back — Matt Laird (135), Cash Horne (140), Clint Copeland (152) and Matt Morian (160) — along with first-timers Sam Juracko (130), Dennis Diodati (171) and Kris Tursky (285).

Laird (32-2) and Tursky (30-4) begin with byes thanks to their D-10 titles taken last weekend.

Laird was eliminated in the consolation semifinals in a 6-0 decision loss to Addison Snyder of Bellefonte at 130 last year.

His first opponent will be the winner of a match between Richie Queen of Clearfield (25-12) and Garrett Singer of Bellefonte (16-6).

Laird topped Queen by 6-4 decision in this year’s Tool City quarterfinals.

Tursky awaits the victor of Aaron Gies of St. Marys (16-6) versus Frank Terry of Lewistown (23-11).

Horne (29-2) and Copeland (20-2) were the Indians’ PIAA qualifiers last season with Horne being the lone regional champ for Lake.

Horne should cruise past first-round opponent Matt Zimmerman of DuBois (15-18) as well as quarterfinal foe James Vojtash of Carrick (9-8).

In the semifinals he would likely face D-6 winner Andrew Alton of Central Mountain (40-0) who is ranked fifth in the nation by Wrestling USA Magazine.

Copeland begins the tourney against Randy Breon of Bald Eagle Area (21-12).

The Lake senior should find his first roadblock in the semifinals against heralded Bradford freshman Mark Havers (27-1). Havers was the D-9 Co-Wrestler of the Year, and his only loss is to undefeated Coudersport sophomore Dirk Cowburn (31-0).

Juracko (11-3) will have a good chance to start strong against D-9 runner-up Brent Cousins of St. Marys (9-17).

District 8 champ Dan Duffy of Brashear (25-6) awaits in the quarterfinals for a likely chance at the winner of Quiggle-Woodrow in the semis.

Morian (27-5) was exited by Eric Lundgren of DuBois at 171 last season in the consy semis.

He starts with Dan McMurtrie of Bradford (8-2) to try to set up a match with 2007 145-pound PIAA runner-up Steve Bosak of State College (35-1).

Freshman Diodati (27-8) was given no break at 171 as he opens with last year’s region champ Will Harris of Johnstown (23-1).

General McLane senior Cyrus Parlin (36-7) returns as the D-10 No. 1 seed at 119 after being eliminated in the consolation semifinals last year.

Parlin faces the winner of State College’s Scott Bosak (27-9) and Bald Eagle Area’s Coleman Hoffman (11-18).

Third-seed Tyler Bowers (22-19) opens against D-6 runner-up Forrest Bechdel of Central Mountain (26-17).

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